Letter to the Editor

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It is often said that “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” but that depends on whether the “beholder” is either well-informed or intelligent enough to behold anything that is beautiful. Recently, public opinion has been diverse on the merit or otherwise of Architect Robert Simeoni’s design of the “reincarnated” Stokehouse. One of the detractors “condemns” the design as “sterile” (SKN July ’14 edition).

According to this particular detractor, a replica of the fire-devastated Stokehouse should be built, citing the rebuilding of St Kilda pier Cafe and the Burra Charter. In the first place, the Stokehouse at the time of its destruction by fire had been altered a number of times without due consideration of its original design context. Furthermore, quoting the Burr Charter without clarifying its intent, let alone contextual issues means that the detractor either doesn’t understand or has never read the said Charter.

Simeoni has addressed the problem in a contemporary design vocabulary that is both contextual and site specific; organically translucent and in total accordance with the much-quoted Burra Charter. To do otherwise, such as erecting a historically flawed replica would simply “Disneyfied” that part of the foreshore. Furthermore, it will disrespect the integrity of a significant shoreline.

Alex Njoo
Architect and local resident

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